Where the Sailors At? Shenmue 3 Gets Funded

The E3 presentation last month was one of the most memorable ones in the show’s history. We found out that The Last Guardian project is still alive. Square Enix is recreating Final Fantasy VII HD for the young’uns (*grandpa voice* back in the day, Cloud had Popeye arms). AND of course, we will finally see the continuation of Shenmue after a 14-year hiatus. And this all happened in ONE show under the PlayStation presentation. Sony totally killed it, hands down.

But I digress. What I really want to talk about is how Shenmue 3 got successfully funded in Kickstarter, making it one of the fastest- and highest-funded games in the crowdfunding platform. In under a day, it was able to meet its asking funding of $2 million and ended at a nice figure of a little over $6.3 million with almost 70,000 backers. As a fan, I really wanted for it to go over $10 million to meet the stretch goals for additional game features, but $6 million isn’t something to scoff at either.

Literally me while watching the presentation

Thanks to the efforts of the fans on different social media platforms and fan sites, word got around to support Yu Suzuki’s (creator of Shenmue and other popular games such as Out Run, Virtua Fighter, and many more) project and see the dream realized. In the game’s next installation, we will continue Ryo’s quest in China to find out about his father who had been murdered. In his travels, he meets a girl named Shenhua and together they discover how his father’s death is connected to a cartel and its leader.

What makes Shenmue a well-loved classic is that it introduced a lot of fun game features that were way ahead of its time. Aside from looking really amazing, it had one of the best open world systems that’s still incomparable with newer games (note that this came out in 1999!), quick time events, tons of mini games (the arcade games!), and most importantly, the battle system was really fun and highly satisfying to play with.

Some of the people who worked on the previous Shenmue titles will be coming back to work on the third installment, such as Ryo Hazuki’s voice actors, Masaya Matsukaze and Corey Marshall, lead character designer Kenji Miyawaki, animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi, and scriptwriter Masahiro Yoshimoto. They will be supplemented by new staff who will aid in the game’s marketing and social media promotions.

It’s refreshing to see the development team fully acknowledge its loyal fans’ support and their valuable help in getting the word out for its Kickstarter campaign. The fans were able to trend #SaveShenmue worldwide on Twitter and campaigned to convince Conan O’Brien to play the game on his talk show’s popular segment, Clueless Gamer. Yu Suzuki ran two sessions of #YouAskYu on Twitter, where he answered fans’ questions about the upcoming game, and hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Yu’s team also ran a broadcast on Twitch during the project’s last few days which boosted the Kickstarter funds as well.

Since the project has raised $6.3 million, we can expect the core game with some additional features in its stretch goals such as:

  • Rapport system
  • Skill tree system
  • Fully expanded Baisha village with more mini games and quests
  • Character Perspective system
  • Advanced Free Battle
  • Localization to German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

The game is expected to ship out in 2017 digitally on the PlayStation Network for the PS4 and the PC platform. Physical game discs are exclusive rewards to the campaign backers for now.

Disclosure: I backed the game at the $300 tier and will be expecting the rewards on December 2017.

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